left: Shape overlay. Right: Shapes subtracted Cutting out a shape is rendering totally differently to a shape with shape above, even though the paths are identical. Any ideas why this may be happening?

Shapes Subtracted

Shapes overlayed

  • Is there a stroke anywhere? White filled objects are not the same as counters. On-screen anti-aliasing will try and preserve the appearance of white objects on top of black object. However, the anti-aliasing on counters isn't trying to preserve "holes". If you enlarge after the Pathfinder operation, you'll probably see the same shapes.
    – Scott
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 16:28
  • I printed the 'c' with the white shapes overlaying it and it printed just fine, so it makes me think it's not (just) illustrator antialising a shape.
    – James
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 17:16
  • any ideas on a solution to this?
    – James
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 18:40
  • As I posted.. white on black is not the same as holes in the black. You may need to increase the size of the smaller objects before using pathfinder in order for them to work as you expect. Note... objects smaller than .25pts don't tend to hold up on press anyway.
    – Scott
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 19:04
  • I understand what you're saying. Unfortunately increasing the size of the shapes used to cut into the letter is not an option (as the holes appear too large when the artwork is large). The real struggle is keeping the counters at their relative size no matter what size the artwork. But I can see why this is not possible.
    – James
    Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 8:45

1 Answer 1


Sounds to me like your background object(s) are inheriting appearance attributes from the foreground object after you've applied the pathfinder operation.

For example, when you use the 'Intersect' pathfinder operation, the intersecting area is retained - but also inherits the stroke and fill from the foreground item. It looks to me like your 'grain' has inherited a thin stroke from the foreground object - thus making them much thinner and less prominent.

Try selecting your 'grain', and removing any stroke it may have inherited - this may resolve the issue you're experiencing.

If this doesn't work for you, perhaps you could post the file you're working with (with steps to recreate the issue) and I'd be happy to look at it directly.

1. Pre-pathfinder operation (Intersect)

Two paths, prior to pathfinder operation

2. After intersection: intersected area inherits stroke and fill of foreground item - NOT background.

After pathfinder operation

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